Lead Stories

DNC WEB EXTRAS DAY TWO: Packing a Rhetorical Punch

President Clinton's valedictory last night used all the tricks of the trade for maximum emotional impact

Issue: "Lieberman vs. Gore," Aug. 19, 2000

Love him or not, President Clinton will certainly go down in history as one of the best communicators ever to occupy the White House. His speeches sound different from those of lesser politicians -- more sincere and heartfelt -- and last night's speech was no different. The surprise is, they also look different. The giant TelePrompTer in the Staples Center sits about 30 feet from the stage in full view of the print media reporters. Other speeches Monday night were typed for efficiency: Get as many words as possible on a line before hitting "Return." But not President Clinton's. It was typed for rhetorical impact, with line breaks that encouraged proper phrasing and emphasis. Note to Hillary: Don't worry about getting your husband's best advisers for your Senate campaign; just try to land the person who types his speeches. Voicing Choice -- Democrat convention speakers showed the courage of their pro-abortion convictions Republicans may have banned the A-word from their convention until the final night, but Democrats took the opposite approach. From California Gov. Gray Davis to California Sen. Barbara Boxer to both Clintons, speaker after speaker praised the Democrats for "protecting a woman's right to choose." The president even inserted the issue gratuitously at several points, going off-script to throw some red meat to the enthusiastically pro-abortion crowd. Blowing Smoke -- Silent, sullen backers of Big Tobacco relegated to the rear of the convention site Pro-life Democrats aren't the only ones out in the cold at this convention. "Big Tobacco" is the corporate bogeyman of choice, with convention organizers bragging that they accepted no sponsorships from cigarette makers. Individual smokers don't feel so welcome, either. They gather, maybe 100 at a time, outside a rear door of the Staples Center, where they puff away, silent and sullen. I tried asking several if they supported Big Tobacco, but they didn't seem to appreciate the humor. Sticks, Stones, Cellphones -- Protesters threw everything but the kitchen sink at riot police, while reporters dialed "A" for anarchy A partial inventory of items hurled at riot police in Monday night's ugly confrontation with protesters: rocks, glass bottles, wooden stakes, lead pipes, batteries, paint cans, firecrackers, smoke bombs, flashlights, bike pedals, bike seats, hairbrushes. Most incredibly of all, two handicapped parking signs were somehow lofted over the 15-foot-high fence -- with 50 pounds of concrete still attached to their bases. While open fires still smoldered in the protest area, reporters just emerging after President Clinton's speech scrambled to put together a picture of what had occurred. One reporter pulled out his cell phone to call the number of an anarchist he'd talked to earlier in the day. Other reporters gathered around to get the story. Somewhere beyond police barricades, the tech-savvy anarchist used his own cell phone to tell tales of rubber bullets and police brutality. Anarchy ain't what it used to be. Bribing the Messenger? Delegates aren't the only ones getting goodies from greedy corporations Reporters like to write stories about all the goodies that delegates receive from various corporate sponsors. In the interest of full disclosure, however, it should be noted that members of the press receive a few goodies of their own: a Saturday night party with a live performance by Patti LaBelle; two free, 15-minute calling cards from Sprint; a bundle of postcards featuring moody, black-and-white photos of LA; more free magazines and newspapers than they could ever read; free massages at the Media Resource Center; and free refreshments in the Media Lounge. Dinner on Monday night was hot dogs, potato chips, and beer, compliments of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and BellSouth. No wonder veteran political reporter columnist Jack Germond titled his recent memoir, Fat Man in the Middle Seat. Watch Your Language, Sister -- Senator addresses the fellas and the femmes Warning: Phrases like "my fellow Americans" may be on the way out. Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski got the biggest ovation of the early evening when she addressed her remarks to "my fellow Democrats -- and my sister Democrats." If you thought "he or she" was hard to get used to, try wrapping your tongue around "fellow and sister." Quote of the day. "Amen! Thank you Jesus! Amen!" --An older woman just behind the press seating area, as President Clinton took the stage after an emotional -- even worshipful -- video recounting his career.

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